Jimmie Johnson wheeled the No. 48 Hendrick Chevy to his fourth win this season in the Pennsylvania 500. Johnson took the lead at lap 32, and despite being jockeyed out of the top spot a few times, he easily fought his way back to the front every time to grab his tenth career win.
"I was sliding around and abusing the tires, but in the long run I was able to find where to run and save the tires, and that's what really got us the win today."
Johnson was the class of the field all day, and was leading at lap 104 when the 48 team took four tires, while several other teams chose to only take two, shuffling Johnson out of the lead. Johnson easily propelled the 48 Chevy back to the lead by lap 120, though, and ran unthreatened to the checkered flag.
"It wasn't a cake walk by any means," said Johnson. "Days like today are very special, and you really have to appreciate them. It's unbelievable, I don't even know what to say."
For his efforts, Johnson also wins the NEXTEL leader bonus of $90,000 for being the driver leading the points and winning the race in the same weekend.
Mark Martin earned just his third top-five of the 2004 season, with a second-place result.
"That's nearly as good as a win," Martin said. "I tell you what; this Viagra team had this Taurus working today. I just couldn't run with the 48, but, boy, we had a time with the rest of them. I had a great powerplant with Ford under the hood."
"It was an awesome car."
Kasey Kahne survived a lap 108 incident with Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch to finish third. Kahne, Busch and Stewart were all battling for 13th position when Stewart spun and Kahne hit the 20 car, crunching part of the hood of his racecar.
The No. 9 Dodge team made repairs on pit road, and Kahne managed to work his way back up through the pack to earn his sixth top-three result of the season.
"It was very surprising after what happened with Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch," Kahne said. "We were lucky it didn't get the fender, cause then we would have been loose. It was a great finish, I think we were really even with Mark (Martin) but we weren't able to get around him."
Busch series race winner Greg Biffle scored fourth. It was a busy weekend for Biffle, who shuttled back and forth between Colorado and Pennsylvania to run in both of NASCAR's premium series, garnering his first top-five finish of the 2004 season in his Cup ride.
"We didn't do anything different than what we normally do," said Biffle. "We just didn't have missteps in the pits and didn't have to come back. We didn't get caught for speeding and there were no flat tires, so it was really a normal day for us and it got us in the top five."
"The car did really well. We're just a little bit off from running with that 48 and we'll go do our homework and, hopefully, come back and be better."
Jeff Gordon completed the top five, racking up his 15th top-ten of the year.
"I don't know if anyone can beat Jimmie Johnson here right now," said Gordon. "Those guys are so strong. I had a fast car in the beginning and then a chain broke on the left rear and we couldn't get the left side up on the pit stops and we kept losing positions. Every time I went further back in the field I'd just get so tight I couldn't get back up to the front."
"So a top five is a great save."
The top ten in point standings took a real hit Sunday in the Pocono Mountains. Four of the top-ten racers were in the garage by the race end, causing changes in positions within the top ranks. Bobby Labonte, Kevin Harvick, and Kurt Busch all experienced mechanical difficulties, while Tony Stewart wrecked the No. 20 Chevy.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also fell one spot. Earnhardt, still recovering from burns, stepped out of his car on lap 53, allowing relief driver John Andretti to finish the race. Andretti's 25th place result drops Earnhardt to third in points, 267 behind leader Johnson.
Earnhardt's loss was Jeff Gordon's gain, as he moves into second place, 232 points shy of the lead.
Matt Kenseth (-417) and Tony Stewart (-434) complete the top five in standings.
There were nine cautions for 35 laps, and 16 lead changes among 10 drivers.